An honest conversation with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, followed by a major diet change has helped Will Skelton return to the Test arena for the first time since August.
Skelton hasn’t played for the Wallabies since Australia’s second Bledisloe Test loss in Wellington, when he was given an edict to improve his fitness.
“I got dropped I think it was after the second All Blacks Test. He (Cheika) gave me specific goals,” Skelton said.
“He wanted my work rate up. He wanted me to be able to impose myself a bit more and I feel like I am at the weight now where I can do that.
“Obviously he’s picked me, I thought all the boys played really well and I wasn’t expecting a call up just because after the result on the weekend you don’t usually see new faces in the team. But for me it’s just trying to add what I can add this weekend being on the bench and providing that impact for the forwards because I know it know it will be a tough battle up front.
“We’re going to need every person on the bench.”
The 24-year-old has cut sugar out of his diet and trimmed down significantly, a move that he said was already paying off.
“Just no sugar, that’s basically it,” he said.
“Just no sugar . . . It’s the devil. I was finding it tough the first couple of weeks when we were running up some hills in Sydney but I got through that patch and it’s working for me.” - Will Skelton
“It’s the devil. I was finding it tough the first couple of weeks when we were running up some hills in Sydney but I got through that patch and it’s working for me.”
Cheika said he was straightforward with the giant lock when asking him to work on his body.
“It was an easy conversation because we always tell each other the truth,” he said.
“It’s only because I want him to be the best player he can be, and he’s got unlimited potential that lad.
“He’s got to get himself to that potential and we’ve got to take him beyond that.
“It’s not a difficult conversation to have because it’s the truth, and inside this team we tell each other the truth whether it’s good or bad.
“That’s something we’re benefitting from as a group, building a camaraderie around that honesty, it’s there all the time between players, between coaches, and between coaches and players.”
Now that Skelton has begun to tighten up his diet, the 140kg forward said he could actually focus on becoming a more traditional lock, to go with his damaging ball-carrying abilities.
“Now I can work on the things I can do as a lock being specific – lineout, scrum or those things that I can really add value to as opposed to being that big ball carrier who tries to destroy mauls.
“Now I can be a bit more specific and have a specific role in the team.”
All of the Wallabies’ Spring Tour Tests will be broadcast LIVE on beIn Sports and streamed LIVE on Foxtel Go (for Foxtel subscribers).